Wednesday 18 February 2009

England's very average average

England went through a generation of Test cricket with just one batsman maintaining an average above 40. Step forward Graham Thorpe. The rest - Atherton, Stewart, Hussain, Ramprakash, Butcher, Hick et al - ended their careers below that tideline.

While they did, though, the frontline bowlers, Darren Gough, Andy Caddick and Gus Fraser, piled up 640 wickets at averages of less than 30, under thirty of course being the bowling equivalent of over 40 for the batters.

In Antigua, the next generation has inverted the pyramid. With the exception of Ryan Sidebottom, no England bowler takes his wickets at less than 30.

It would be easy to pine for an age when the two halves came together (the two good halves, obviously) and the batters all averaged 40 while the bowlers got them at 20s. 

But maybe bowling averages are blowing out across the world. Fifty is the new 40 for batsmen. Perhaps 30 is the new 20 for bowlers. 


Anonymous said...

"But maybe bowling averages are blowing out across the world. Fifty is the new 40 for batsmen. Perhaps 30 is the new 20 for bowlers."
I thought the same thing, but then I decided to compare bowling averages in tests across decades for the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Not too much disparity across the distribution of averages, though the 90s stands out.
I guess top class bowling will always stay true to the measures that have been established, heavens knows we've been looking for a bowler who can average the early 20s for ages in India.
Coming to the English batsman of the '90s, I think they would have averaged over 40 if they played the majority of their matches this decade, without having to worry too much about Ambrose, Walsh, McGrath, Warne and Waqar Younis. Bowling today is almost boring, there really aren't too many fast bowlers whose reputation alone would draw people to matches. Also, I honestly don't know what to make of the psychology or mindset rather of that English lineup... the scars of previous Ashes encounters were usually good enough to ensure the humiliation continued in the next series.

The Old Batsman said...

Thanks Achettup - I was wondering where to get that info. The 90s bowlers were the kind who could scar you - and did for England. I still reel at the number of times McGrath got Atherton out.

You're probably feeling the same frustration with your bowlers as us with ours. The averages and strike rates don't lie, they just don't take wickets as often as others. If there was a measure for beating the bat, Flintoff would lead the world...